What Alice Forgot

aliceBook club has returned! After taking August off to accommodate intense travel schedules, we postponed our September meeting two weeks and just met this past Thursday. Karen and her newly renovated kitchen hosted our first autumn gathering, and the meeting was a spectacular fall event. Karen chose What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, which was featured in the HCG 2011 Summer Book Guide, as her selection, and the novel was thoroughly enjoyed by our book club. A synopsis via GoodReads:

Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What's more, she's looking forward to the birth of her first baby. But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her spin class and everyone's telling her she's misplaced the last ten years of her life.

In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she's his worst enemy. What's more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn't speaking to her either. And who is this 'Gina 'everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?

Alice isn't sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn't have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband for ever?

Imagine forgetting the last 10 years of your life! Seriously, think about it. 10 years ago HCG was a 19-year-old college sophomore with blonde hair and a new obsession with flat irons. How shocked I would be to wake up in 2011 as a 29-year-old brunette with a super hot husband, a decent luxury handbag collection and a scooter! When Alice awoke at the gym, she had no idea she had three children much less did she know their names, genders or ages. She had never heard of "Googling" something. She was shocked when her husband cursed her off on the phone. She had no idea why she was at the gym since 29-year-old Alice hated exercise. The entire situation is so mind boggling.

After that fateful spin class, Alice struggles to regain her memory in the weeks that follow. Slowly but surely, Alice remembers bits and pieces of the last decade. Although some book club members felt frustrated by how Alice would remember a tiny fragment of her life and then blindly wonder what else happened, I enjoyed how the reader remembered and figured things out right along with Alice. I especially loved how when Alice awoke at the gym, she was skinnier, richer and had much better clothing than she did when she was 29. Those developments made me excited to become 39.

What Alice Forgot offered a plethora of discussion topics for our book club. For example, is a 10-year memory loss even medically possible? According to Christa, a recent ABC News segment about a man who lost his entire memory confirms it is. We still had questions about the medical plausibility of Alice's condition, though, and we wished our resident book club neurologist Torrey hadn't moved to Boston right when we needed her most. Alice's transformation from an easygoing, optimistic and funny 29-year-old newlywed to an irritable, over-scheduled and relatively bitchy 39-year-old mother of three got HCG shaking in my boots. I wondered if anyone else shared my concerns, so I posed the following question to book club: raise your hand if this book made you fear what kind of mother (and woman) you might become. Hands (some reluctantly) went up around the table. It was so easy to see how motherhood and marriage changed Alice for the worse, and none of us want that for ourselves. All in all, What Alice Forgot was a lighthearted, entertaining and humorous read that easily sustained our attention while giving us enough to think about and discuss. Kudos to Karen for a great choice!

Karen's fall-inspired meeting menu included a delectable butternut squash risotto with homemade cornbread accompanied by a light fall salad provided by MR. KB's lemon ginger cookies and HCG's warm apple cobbler (which, not to brag, was incredible) helped to end the evening with added sweetness. Special book club congrats to Meg and KB who both rescued dogs over the summer. Meg is the proud owner of Cooper, an adorable shih tzu, and KB recently welcomed Guinness, a spunky labradoodle. Welcome to the book club family, Cooper and Guinness!